For me this is a grand day! The long-awaited, battered and debated, health care reform legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

For me this is a grand day! The long-awaited, battered and debated, health care reform legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives.  It now awaits the signature of President Obama, when it will finally become the law of the land. I am so thankful that the Democrats were able to fulfill this promise to reform America’s over-priced, yet very limited, health care system for all Americans. Some 30 million more of us will have affordable health care!   Crass decisions by insurance companies to exclude patients they deem undesirable are no longer possible. Insurance companies will not be able to summarily deny coverage to persons with conditions they deem are pre-existing. Every American now has the prospect of being healthier because of the availability of health care and wealthier because it is affordable.  This is a grand day.
Sadly, the “Party of No” continues to harass and harry those who support this Reform. Using racial slurs and homophobic insults, these crass demonstrators initially sought to intimidate those working so hard for the average American citizen.  Now they seemingly conspire to directly attack Democrat headquarters, throwing bricks through windows shrouded with insults toward the president and attacks on health care reform. They arrogantly promise to continue their vigorous and now violent efforts to destroy this humanitarian advance that only seeks to heal people. Might it be that the Republicans are more concerned about “waterlooing” the president than about the millions without adequate health care? The Republicans seem committed to defend to the end the special interests and the large Insurance companies to which they are beholden. Evidently this reform threatens their power and their privilege. They vow to destroy a health care system that would minister to those without power or privilege.  Surely this is not a grand day for extremists, for racists, and for the Tea-baggers.  But in spite of their ongoing attacks, it is a grand day for the least of our brethren.
I have a grandson who is counted among the least of our brethren. He probably will never be able to afford health insurance under the old system.  I have a very competent daughter, the mother of three children, who can’t afford health insurance for her family. She is self-employed and the cost of individual coverage is simply beyond her means. Hopefully with the passage of this legislation, they will be spared the emergency room parade and can afford to visit a physician. These are just two personal examples, and not very dramatic examples, of the need for expanded and affordable health care.  There are millions more with much graver situations and far dimmer prospects. For all these, I had hoped for a single payer plan; simply an expansion of Medicare to cover everyone.  At our age, my wife and I could not survive with out this federal health care program, and the complimentary federal Social Security System. I had hoped for such protection for all Americans. Though this goal was not achieved, the bill that was passed will dramatically expand coverage to many more citizens. That is at least a beginning. Maybe someday America’s heart will open to embrace every citizen in a health care system that will keep us healthy longer, will cost less and will usher in a nationwide peace of mind about our health. Maybe someday we’ll advance into the 21st Century and join all those other industrialized and civilized nations who care for all their people. That truly will be a grand day.

In hopes...

Fr. Bob Layne (Episcopal priest- retired)
McPherson, Kansas